The other players were banned for 50 games, including three All-Stars: Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres and Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers. The league accused Rodriguez not just of using testosterone and human growth hormone for many years but also of trying to “obstruct and frustrate” its investigation of the South Florida anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, at the center of the scandal.
Now we’re in for a period of awkwardness with Rodriguez, the only player of the 13 not to accept his suspension. As he pursues an appeal, he will still be allowed to play. There will be arguments over whether the players’ punishment was too much, too little or just right, and disagreements about Rodriguez’s eventual place in or out of the Hall of Fame, which, in a fitting reflection of the current state of baseball, inducted no living players this year.
Rodriguez’s looming banishment would be a pathetic ending for a perennial All-Star and Most Valuable Player who, since starting as a teenager with the Seattle Mariners in 1993, was on a trajectory for glory. He seemed like a lock for the Hall of Fame and for the all-time home-run record. He was going to get there faster than anyone else, and get there clean.
But the fins came off the rocket as Rodriguez’s career turned into a catalog of disappointments, astonishing only for the size of his paycheck. Whatever he makes of what is left of his career, and whatever comes of his contract with the Yankees, which ends in 2017, he is no victim of Major League Baseball. On the contrary, Rodriguez has fed the widespread-but-understandable assumption that everybody cheats. That is not true. But it will take further steps — like the giant one that baseball took on Monday — to repair the sport’s reputation.